Most dog (and kid) friendly beach in New England? Plymouth

Plymouth, MA, lets you bring your dog on a summer day–which sets it apart from most of New England which has taken to banning dogs during some hours, all summer or just forever.

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Turtles already hatching in Prospect Park

Red-eared slider hatchlings, nesting snapping turtles and sunning logs abound in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

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Trip to see Orthodox Jews in Pre-Passover duck-feeding frenzy a big disappointment

Non-denominational waterfowl feeding.

I went out last week hoping to see the Orthodox Jews throwing their leavened bread at the Prospect Park geese before Passover. The Prospect Park Alliance publicly notified them not to try to foist off their chametz on the waterfowl feeding. That ticked off the community, who denied any such plans., to the New York Times and the Brooklyn Paper.

So I headed over to the prime duck-feeding spot on the lake in Prospect Park on both the eve and morning of Passover. Let’s be honest, I was hoping for a spectacle: maybe 10 guys in 5 kinds of fur hats, surrounded by their collective 87 children and 10 wives in perfect wigs, all hurling bags of bread at grateful Canada geese. The aggressive swan family that lives there might charge them. A Park Slope mom might passive-aggressively read the sign about not feeding the waterfowl outloud to her kids. The pushy Peking ducks that follow bird feeders away from the lake might try to follow these generous Jews all the way home to Borough Park.

Instead I got absolutely no visible Hasidim at the spot where people and ducks have come to agree is the best spot for feeding, the southwest corner of the lake. (I also looked around the shore and by the boathouse.)

That’s not to say I didn’t see plenty of visibly Orthodox Jews feeding ducks earlier this spring. Sometimes there were even two men in formal garb. But mostly, just

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Hummingbirds arrive a month--sometimes two--early this year; some never left

In the last week hummingbirds flew into IL, NY, PA, OH, MD and even Ontario, way ahead of schedule. Freakishly, many fragile hummingbirds spent all winter up north.

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Beagletown in the Berkshires

Clover Hill Farm’s main work is horses, but it moonlights as an inn and a beagle paradise.

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Cat Wins: East Village Blue Jays Move Out of Fire Escape

Father jay at gaping mouths

Father Jay looks into babies gaping mouths

The family of seven blue jays that braved an East Village fire escape and a neighborhood cat has left their home. A live webcam on the nest on 5th Street shows nobody home. That means the blue jay chicks have — we hope — fledged.

I’m a little concerned because I didn’t see anything of the five babies since once fell on the sidewalk last week. Neighbors picked him up and put him back. I got to meet some very nice neighbors. The couple who lives in the apartment had been keeping their blinds closed for a month so they wouldn’t scare the jays off. They also let me come up and take some pictures and set up a webcam so everyone could enjoy this unusual urban spectacle.

Normally the jays would be down on the ground a day or two before they learned to fly. I hope I see them at my window sill someday.

Momma Blue Jay looks at fire escape nest

Where to See Animals in the Northeast

Where to Go See Animals Around New York City

Feral Parrots Land in Lower Manhattan

Parrot near Brooklyn College

Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx has had colonies of parrots for a while, but now the little green birds may be starting a colony in lower Manhattan. Dennis Edge, a friendly birder who is compiling a book of his many finds around Tompkins Square Park, says he’s seen at least two for a couple months in Tompkins and nearby community gardens.

It’s too late to be building a nest for eggs, he says, but the birds seem to be building something–like one of their insanely huge colony nests, which can grow to the size of a smartcar. No one knows where, but once the colony gets going, it’s huge and they like to build them on tall towers (or trees in a pinch), so it shouldn’t be hard to fine in the East Village.

Steve Baldwin has done an amazing job tracking and advocating for the monk parakeets or Quaker parrots at He gives free, frequent tours by Brooklyn College and Greenwood Cemetery. At one point he had a highly-detailed map on his site of nests around  New York City and New Jersey, but he took it down after reports of men showing up in vans and grabbing birds.

These huge nests make the parrots unpopular.

The feral parrots x are from South America, but have shown up in cities worldwide, even cold ones, usually with a myth about them escaping from an airport crate. They run into trouble for destroying crops and messing with electrical lines when

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Masses of Bassets and Poodles This Weekend

September is a perfect time to put on a silly dog event. Now that the weather has cooled, we have two great events this weekend: a basset hound waddle in Illinois and a poodle party in New Hampshire.

In Illinois this weekend, we’ve got a nice basset hound waddle. Around the country basset breed rescue groups raise money to save dogs by having parades. Typically, a rescue group –in this case Guardian Angel Basset Rescue–gloms onto a small town parade–here it’s Dwight, IL’s Harvest Days. The bassets quickly become the star of the show–even though they are uniquely ill-suited to parading, what with their sloth, girth and enthusiasm for saying hi to everyone. You can absolutely go basset-less, have a great time and say hi to as many bassets as you want.

I’ve gone to the Dwight Waddle, riding on the basset coattails of my sister’s goofy dog Bacon. You’ll see a sea of bassets; they hope for 1,000 this year. And they have plenty of hounds up for adoption. My sister is going and I hope she falls in love with one. Next week the Calgary Basset Rescue Network (see their Facebook fan page) has its fourth annual waddle .

On the east coast, Crabapple Downs‘ 60-acre Poodle Farm has its annual Poodle Party weekend. You don’t have to have a poodle bred here, but they do want you to have a poodle. It’s their ninth year and they’ve got a dog dancing class this year. I

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An Easier Way to Find a Good Whale Watch on the East Coast?

Picking out a whale-friendly East Coast whale watch just got a little easier. NOAA and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society just started Whale Sense, a voluntary program to ensure tours from Virginia to Maine don’t bother whales.

The rules are complicated–more than just stay back 100 feet, though that is the basic distance. (If the whale approaches you, stay put. If it’s a right whale, back off 1,500 feet.) What I found more amusing were the rules against advertising showing whale watchers touching, swimming with or even chasing the whales. Is Jerry Bruckheimer running a watch somewhere?

So far the group has signed up five companies, mainly in Massachusetts. I count at least 30 tour companies from Virginia to Maine, with 18 going to Stellwagen Bank–not included the odd charters that line the whole coast. So what about the ones not on the list?

Even Frank Kelley, operations manager for Mass Bay Lines (listed) says that right now the program is so new that you can’t judge an operation for not participating. Lots of the tours work with other whale groups. For example, Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company is tied to Allied Whale. The New England Aquarium’s whale watch, which I just went on, isn’t part of the program yet (they’re still examining the details), says spokesman Tony LaCasse. But since they already do most of it and they helped push voluntary standards decades ago, they’ll probably be part of it.

When you’re out on Stellwagen it’s not

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Hawks Nest on Houston Street in NYC

The NYPD took the last of the three Houston Street baby hawks into custody last night. Now all three eyasses are in the custody of wildlife rehabber and fireman Bobby Horvath, who hopes to have them back in the area within a week.Documentary filmmaker Adam Welz did an amazing job chronicling the drama. The third hawk flew across the street ok, but ran into trouble flying back. It flew into the school building (where its nest sits on an air conditioner). The hawk tried to cling to the wall, failed, then fell to busy Houston Street.The hawk watchers swooped in, stopped traffic and picked up the hawk in a shirt. The commotion caused a car accident. The hawk people got the hawk to the yard of the project across the street and wanted to release it. Meanwhile, somebody called 911. The cops came, took the hawk into custody. The hawk guys argued the bird should be left alone. The cops took him up to the dreaded ACC, but Bobby sprung him.

Where to See Animals Around New York CityAccesible Places To See Hawks

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